One of the most troubling conflicts today is the one between Israel and the Palestinians. Here in Part 5, although I don’t intend to offer a clever solution that has eluded world leaders for decades, I would like to detail some truths that the mainstream media is not including in the discussion of the problem. I will also go a bit deeper into the cause of the ancient problem and the consequences to this very old problem. These details will show how this conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis is really a much greater problem–one that stems from an ancient jealousy between the descendants of Abraham. This family feud was between the descendants of Abraham and Sarah’s son Isaac, and the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son born through Sarah’s Egyptian maid-servant, Hagar. The family quarrel became worse with the conflict between Isaac and Rebecca’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau. According to the Bible, Isaac was the son that God promised to Abraham, and it was through Isaac that God’s covenant was to continue. This covenant was then was extended through Jacob, and not Esau.
Today, the small Jewish nation, Israel, is surrounded largely by the descendants of Ishmael and Esau. As God promised Abraham to bless his first son as well as Isaac, Ishmael and Esau’s families multiplied greatly, becoming the people group we today know as Arabs. Ancient history has them listed as distinct tribal groups but today we can identify each and place them in modern nations. Another factor that greatly aggravates this ancient hatred originates from the teachings of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, both through the Qu’ran as well as the Hadith, which contains the Sunna, Muhammad’s accounts of his daily practice, a major source of guidance for Muslims.
Most readers are well aware of the storyline describing the time of Jesus’ life in Palestine in the first century. In Part 4 of this series we briefly mentioned the history of how the Roman Empire overran Palestine. The Roman military was sent to deal with the continual insurrections in this distant territory ruled by the Empire. One territory after another was taken by the Romans until the Roman general, Vespasian, who in time became the Emperor, sent his son Titus, who had become a powerful general for the Empire, to put a final end to the Palestine problem. The Roman General and his massive army broke through the outermost wall, then a second city wall, and finally the third. The Jews were much more resilient than expected but, as mentioned earlier, eventually the city was sacked with well over one million Jews killed in the process. The last line of defence for the Jews was the Jewish Temple which King Herod had expanded and finished only a few years earlier. Then, just as Jesus had predicted nearly four decades earlier, this great and beautiful structure, known the world over, was destroyed…not one stone being left upon another. All these things had been predicted by Jesus in Luke 21.
The chronological saga of the Jews, from east to west; from north to south, from 70 AD until 1948, is a history of agony, pain, persecution, and non-ending discrimination, more often than not leaving the Jewish people in ghettos for self-preservation. Of course, anti-semitism rose to a crescendo during World War 2 with Hitler’s Final Solution costing the lives of over 6 million Jews.
It was at the end of the 19th century that the Jews’ desire for their own homeland began to take root, with the first Zionist Congress held in Switzerland in 1897. This movement grew slowly but steadily with a trickle of Jews coming back to the homeland after nearly 1,900 years. What most people are not aware of today is that the Jews came back to a land that was so barren and useless, no one but the Jews would be willing to even make an attempt at reviving it. Palestine was desolate, bare of trees, full of swamps which were infested with mosquitoes and malaria. The Jews found it very difficult to purchase properties due to restrictions put on land sales to Jews by the Ottoman Empire. At the fall of the Empire, the doors began to open and gradually, Jews began purchasing land. There was a controversy concerning the purchase of land by Jews; who the land was purchased from, what locations were to be bought and sold, and other restrictions. But the typical complaints by Palestinians were not, and are not today, corroborated by real facts.
Now, some of the things that many don’t know: The Jews were so willing to take any land available, they asked the British Empire if they could settle in Uganda! But they were denied their request and encouraged to push toward their ancient homeland of Palestine. Palestine at this time was a neglected part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and had very few inhabitants. With England’s encouragement, a slow emigration began into the land of Palestine. For the Jews who had become used to a softer life in Europe, the idea of settling in the forbidding desert wasteland wasn’t all that appealing. But, after a few years, the land began to respond as prophesied in Ezekiel 36:6-10. Let’s take a look at this passage:
Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains, the hills, the rivers, and the valleys, Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and My fury, because you have borne the shame of the nations.” Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I have raised My hand in an oath that surely the nations that are around you shall bear their own shame. But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt.”
For anyone who knew the condition of the land of Palestine before the Jewish people began to filter back to the land, this is something much more than amazing; it is miraculous. As mentioned in Part 4, it was in the 19th century that famous writer Mark Twain gave a very accurate description of the lifeless condition of Palestine. It literally had not rained on this parched land for 1,800 years…then came the Jews. The land was not worth fool’s gold…then came the Jews! Just a strange phenomenon? I don’t think so…
During WWI, a scientist named Chaim Weizmann came up with a synthetic acetone that helped the British develop a smokeless gunpowder. This in effect shortened the war for the British. The British government offered him almost anything he wanted in payment. He only asked for one thing, a national homeland for his people. This resulted in the “Balfour Declaration.” which said in part, “His Majesty’s government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this objective…”
It just so happened that Lord Balfour and Lord Lindsay, another member of Parliament, were both avid believers in the literal interpretation of Scripture, and were very willing to be part of the fulfillment of Scripture concerning the Jewish nation.
In December 1917, at the height of the first world war, Britain found itself in position to implement the Balfour Declaration. Palestine was captured from the Ottoman Empire by General Allenby, which ended four centuries of Turkish Muslim rule. The League of Nations then dismantled the Ottoman Empire and divided the Middle East between two people, the Arabs and the Jews. Unfortunately, of the land apportioned to the Jews by the Balfour Declaration in 1917, only about 20% had actually been given to the Jews by 1921. The rest was given to the Arabs. Land which had been seen as neglected and worthless by the Arabs for centuries was suddenly deemed to be of infinite value. Very strange indeed!
The Arabs objected to the immigration of the Jews to Palestine and so Britain changed the rules for Jews leaving for the area. In 1922, the British divided Palestine into two administrative districts. Jews would be permitted only in the west side. Soon Arab oil became more important and in 1930 the “White Paper” was passed through the British Parliament, effectively banning further Jewish immigration to Palestine.
In March 1939, the British government actually asked the Germans to discourage travel by Jews to the Holy Land. Sir Neville Henderson sent a cable to the Nazi foreign office asking them to discourage travel on German ships to the Holy Land. The large irregular movement from Germany of Jewish refugees attempting to land anywhere they could find a territory that might receive them, was a great embarrassment to His Majesty’s government, and apparently to top leaders in the American government as well. History shows the result of this. Millions of Jews who might have escaped the Nazi’s were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps. The Holocaust became a reality for 6,000,000 Jewish men, women, and children who were marched naked into the gas chambers. Before the Holocaust, most Jews weren’t willing to trade their relative comfort for building a new home in the forbidding desert of Palestine. After the event, Zionism took on a new passion.
In 1946, the British added to their horrendous mistake in the 1930’s by partitioning Palestine and creating an independent Palestine-Arab state, namely Jordan. Then on November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted with a 2/3 majority to partition western Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, essentially creating the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. History also shows us the trouble this has caused. In fact, as soon as this vote was taken, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini stated: “I declare a holy war, my Moslem brothers. Murder the Jews!” And then, on the day that Israel declared its independence, the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq invaded the tiny new country with the declared intent of destroying it. But…miraculously, the new Jewish State survived!
Here is something to think about…approximately 600,000 Jews fled from various Arab states, and sought refuge in the State of Israel. Approximately 720,000 Arabs, encouraged by their leaders to leave, fled from what is now israel. In 1949, Israel signed armistice agreements with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. No attempt was made by the Arab countries to solve the problem of the refugees; instead, they kept them in camps using them as political pawns.
Let me back up just a little to May 14, 1948; this is the day that the new nation of Israel officially came into being. A fact that many may not know is that the name of the new nation had not been decided on until the day before their independence. Until May 13, the argument among the Zionist leadership was over whether to call the nation “Judea”, “Zion”, or maybe “Israel”. Israel it was, and then on the day of their independence, they were attacked on all sides by the combined force of the Muslim nations around them. About all the Israeli’s had were hand weapons and a handful of old WW1 howitzers, half of which didn’t work. Here are the facts:
- The British Mandate made it a crime punishable by death for a Jew to carry a weapon (although the Arabs carried them openly).
- The Jews were badly outnumbered with only 45,000 troops (actually guerrilla fighters). The enemy came with 650,000 heavily armed troops.
- In total, the Jews had 10,500 rifles, 35,000 light submachine guns, 775 light machine guns, 34 three-inch mortars, and 670 two-inch mortars.
- Worst of all, they only had enough ammunition for three days and could only arm two out of every three men.
- Against the Arab Legion’s modern jet air force, Israel had 20 unarmed Piper Cubs. The Arabs also controlled the only landing strips in Palestine.
How do YOU think they won?? For those that have a hard time accepting Divine intervention on behalf of the Jewish nation, there is no other answer that makes any logical sense. But, it continues…In the next war, the Israelis were outnumbered 100-1. Scores of Israeli soldiers charged into battle without a weapon and took what they could find from fallen Arabs. Nearly every war Israel had early on has virtually the same kind of story.
Never before in history has there ever been anything like this. Despite 2,000 years of exile, these people kept their culture, identity, religious laws, dietary laws, and customs. Where are the Babylonians, Assyrians, Medes, Amalekites or the Canaanites today? Yet, Israel exists–as it did before the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar! The Hebrew language had been dead since before the Roman occupation and yet it is the working language of Israel today. Conversational and working Hebrew was restored by Jewish scholar Ben Yiddish early in the 20th century but it did not replace the Yiddish until 1948.
When the six-pointed Star of David was positioned over the Jewish ancestral homeland the first time, the countdown to the end of the present age began. Here is what Jesus said,
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things (these predicted signs), know that it is near–at the very doors. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation (the generation that sees these signs) will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:32-35
The rebirth of Israel provided the key sign around which all the other prophetic signs began to appear. How long will it all take? Only God knows, but we have been given so many clues and so much prophetic information that we should not be caught off guard as to the time on the prophetic clock.
One argument given to discourage us from becoming too glued to the prophetic clock is the argument that Bible prophecy requires the Gospel to have been preached to the entire world before the end can really come. And this has really not been accomplished yet. But, here is something to remember. We, the Gentile Church, do not reach the entire world. The 144,000 chosen Jews will reach many millions during the Tribulation as well, and this is after the Bridegroom has removed the Bride from the face of the planet.
For the prophecy watcher, it is also a strong sign of the end of the age that the Jewish nation, especially its capital, Jerusalem, has become the focal point of the entire world. The Bible predicted this. Anti-semitism goes beyond the racism that has plagued the human race since almost the very beginning. This ancient hatred has a demonic source and will not be overcome until the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords comes back to this fallen world and physically tears it out of the hands of the evil one. There has never been a hatred throughout the entire history of mankind, like the hatred for the Jews. The reason for this is rather easy to see once a person reads the Scriptures and sees how it all came about. The entire story is told in the Bible, including the conclusion of it all. The fallen Lucifer hates the human race with a hatred we cannot even fathom, but his hatred for the Jewish people goes much further than that. This is because it was through God’s chosen people, the Jews, that God chose to bring the Messiah into the world. The Messiah was the only one that had the power to defeat this malicious ancient spirit. The evil one not only knew it was God’s plan to somehow bring the Messiah into the world through the Jewish nation, but he also knows that God has promised to bring this nation back to a recognition of Who He really is, so that they can be saved from his clutches. This is what drives this malevolent evil one to pursue the destruction of the Jews with such a supernatural evil passion. But, he cannot defeat Almighty GOD.
One thing that is becoming more apparent every day is the hypocritical obsession with Israel’s supposed human rights violations. Why is it that the United Nations allows so many complaints to be lodged against this tiny nation? While nations around Israel are guilty of the worst human rights violations, it is Israel that is taken before the world court, again and again. Another question: Why is it that Israel is always expected to trade land for peace when they have such a small sliver of land to begin with? As you read the comparative sizes of Israel and its neighbors, you will see the reason for my question.
- Jordan’s land size: 37,738 square miles
- Lebanon’s land size: 4,015 square miles
- Syria’s land size: 71,498 square miles
- Iraq’s land size: 167,925 square miles
- Iran’s land size: 636,297 square miles
- Egypt’s land size: 622,272 square miles
- Saudi Arabia’s land size: 830,000 square miles
- Israel’s land size: 8,019 square miles (including the West Bank and the Golan 5272 without)
Another question: How is it that serious consideration is given to anyone who denies that Israel has ever historically possessed the land? Archeological finds prove this to be an insane assertion. Proofs of Israel’s existence in the land are found all over modern-day Israel. In addition, even Muslim history of Jerusalem describes Jewish presence in the “al-Haram al Sharif” (Temple Mount Guide), established by the Supreme Moslem Council in 1925. It is called “The August Sanctuary.”
“The two principal edifices are the Dome of the Rock, on a raised platform in the middle, and the mosque of al-Aqsa against the south wall. Other buildings which we shall consider later lie dotted about here and there. On the left, along the east wall the double portals of the Golden Gate appear. On every side, trees break the prospect, which lend a peculiar charm to the scene. The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctuary dates from the earliest (perhaps from prehistoric) times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot according to universal belief, on which “David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”
In this article I have taken time to speak to the Jewish issue in our world today. In one way or another, it affects every human being on this planet and in all reality is already becoming the focus of the entire world. It is the disproportional emphasis and scrutiny that the United Nations is putting on Israel that is one of the most important proofs that we are at the end of the age. In finishing up this portion of our subject matter, we need to look at what the prophet Zechariah had to say:
The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel, Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem, and it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it...In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. Zechariah 12:1-3, 8-9
The world today is at a very dangerous place in its history. The conflict between Israel and its enemies has smoldered for decades, no, centuries! Not one world leader has ever found a solution that both sides will accept. The Israeli War of Independence in 1948, the Sinai war of 1956, the Six Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and the war with Hezbollah of Lebanon in 1982 will not compare with the imminent Psalm 83 war that will be fought on all sides of Israel with its border enemies. The Psalm 83 war on the other hand will look small in comparison to the major world conflict that will be ushered in right behind it. It is my belief that the Psalm 83 war will very likely usher in the Gog / Magog war, or the Ezekiel 38 & 39 war, as some call it. And, that will not be the end…
The wars, rumors of wars, threats of wars in our world news today are what Jesus was referring to in His warnings about the signs of the times at the end of the age. There will now be no end to wars until the Prince of Peace comes to take control of this fallen planet. I, for one, am looking forward to living in that redeemed world, aren’t you?
This does remind us, however, that each one of us needs to be in right standing with this Prince of Peace. It was He that paid the ultimate price for our freedom from the effects of sin and the fall of man which separated us from a holy God. The main showdown is now commencing. We are experiencing a very brief calm before the main storm hits. The Wolf is very, very close…